Briarwood downs Pelham 1-0 in tight game
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY – The Briarwood Lions continued their remarkable start to the 2019 season on Monday, March 11, when they played host to county foe and Class 6A No. 5 Pelham.
In a tightly contested game, Briarwood’s defense stepped up again and forced a ninth consecutive shutout, while one goal in the first half made the difference.
Briarwood has now won nine games in a row because of that defense including four of its last five by the final score of 1-0. The only two goals the Lions have given up this season came in a 2-2 tie with Fairhope in their second game of the season.
Coming into the game, Pelham had also been clicking after winning three in a row and four of five, and while the Panthers dropped the game 1-0 they showed plenty of positive throughout the contest and aren’t playing poorly whatsoever.
Pelham’s two losses in the last six games are both by final scores of 1-0 to No. 1 teams, falling to 6A No. 1 Homewood on Feb. 26, and now 5A No. 1 Briarwood.
Early in the game, Pelham saw some positive plays happen, but specifically got help from the defense.
The Panthers got two really solid opportunities in the first 15 minutes of the game on a corner and a long free kick, but Briarwood was able to clear both.
For the next 15 minutes, Briarwood took control and went on the attack.
Pelham made a couple of good saves and made a couple of defensive stops, but eventually the Lions were able to capitalize on a long free kick with 10 minutes to go in the first half. Eventually, after the deep kick, the Lions put a header on goal before a scrum for the rebound ended in a goal to put them on top 1-0.
In the first half, neither team really got great shot opportunities but more set free-kick chances due to a physical defensive game.
That benefited Briarwood heading into the second half with the lead, knowing that if the game remained the same, it would be hard for the Panthers to get many great shot opportunities in the second half.
In the second half, the Panthers were forced to up the pressure and went on several offensive attacks with great opportunities.
Pelham controlled the ball on Briarwood’s end of the field for the majority of the half.
The Panthers kept trying to push the equalizer goal into the net and got a free kick as late as one minute remaining in the game, but despite the intense pressure, Briarwood was able to make several great plays to stave off Pelham’s spirited effort.
Briarwood’s 1-0 lead held up at the end of the night to improve to 10-0-1 on the season, and despite the loss, Pelham’s second-half performance showed plenty of positive signs moving into future big matchups.